Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Last Friday, I got sick, and it hit me hard enough that I spent three days at home. It's not like me to miss a ride (I've been referred to as "dedicated" many a time by my barn owner), but I was just too sick. So Sofie had Friday and Saturday off, and on Sunday my mom went to the barn and longed her while I stayed home, blowing my nose and coughing every five seconds. Fortunately, I also got to watch five hours of WEG coverage (eventing, reining, and even dressage. Yes, they showed my boring sport on TV!). On Monday, I finally felt okay enough to drag myself to the barn and ride. As luck would have it, Judy and a boarder were going on a trail ride, so Sofie and I got to lead on the trail. A nice walking trail ride makes a good warmup.
Then I worked Sofa in the yard, and she was actually quite good. The weather was lovely and borderline hot for fall, and she trotted out willingly. I found that she did better if I kept her in a trot for a bit longer, rather than trying to do transitions all the time. She did pretty well with her turns (we had a few ugly ones, and she can't sustain a bend very well, but I can't nitpick at her too badly for that). Her ears were moving around more, rather than staying back unhappily, and the tail swishing was kept to a minimum (unlike a couple of the medal-winning dressage horses at the WEG...). She was rather heavy in the mouth, and I had to use my hands more than I like to in order to keep her from drifting. I'm a bit unsatisfied with how I'm able to handle her drifting, and I wish I had a good trainer to work with, but I don't. I've been using a leading outside rein and inside leg to correct her, and it seems like we are both very dependant on the right rein. She's duller on that side of her mouth, and I always have a stronger contact on the right rein. If I try to release that rein, she pretty much falls in dramatically. I'm thinking I need to try something different. Maybe circling when she falls in and bringing her right back to where she was would help, since she's doing better with her turns. I just hate that heavy, uneven feelig, and I don't know what to do about it.
But even though I was having to be heavier with my hands than I like, and she did get inverted at times, she tolerated it well and didn't have any fits. And I worked her pretty well in the yard and then took her down the road. We almost had another dog issue, but fortunately the dog's owner saw us coming (even before I saw her dog was out), and she called her dog back in. Thank you, lady, for being with it! Sofie was rather drifty and inattentive on the road (probably because it was getting close to feeding time, oh noes!) but she was fairly good. She did attempt to rush up out of the ditch at one point, but she didn't pick up her feet and she stumbled pretty dramatically. She didn't try that again. Love it when they self-discipline.
So even though it was a bit rough, it was still better than what we have been doing, and if I think back to how she used to be, we are making progress. And after trying out what seemed like a promising horse, I've come to realize that Sofie, despite all her issues, is one of the nicest horses I've ever ridden, and the horse I've come to prefer.
Although I wouldn't mind taking on this horse after he gets all arthritic and can't hold up to Grand Prix anymore. He's absolutely lovely, and wonderfully free of pissed-off tail swishing and tension (although he does slobber a lot...maybe he has a copper bit in his mouth and he hates the taste). His canter, especially, is stunning, particularly in the pirouettes, which are often labored and front-heavy in today's "cranked-in" dressage horses. Anyway, enjoy the video!